Why is Handwashing important?
Germs that cause diseases can spread by sneezing, coughing, rubbing the eyes, or through handshakes, which can then be passed from one person to another. Examples of these diseases are salmonellosis, influenza, colds, and COVID-19, and washing your hands regularly and properly with soap and water can help prevent its spread.
Our hands are one of the first to contact with germs and bacteria. Whenever we open the door, hop on a bus or train, pay for something we bought, work on our desk, touch our pens, and everything else we do daily that requires our hands to function. And sometimes, due to our busy schedule, we tend to forget to wash our hands. Doing the correct handwashing procedure has not been practiced daily. We wash our hands and that’s it, just a normal hand washing.
During this pandemic, we learned the habit of keeping our hands clean. We have alcohol sprays and sanitizers in our bags, and even in our home, we have alcohol sprays on almost every corner. In our work as well, where a sanitation area was built and no one gets to enter the establishment unless they wash their hands with soap and water and in front of them is a poster of how the proper handwashing technique is done.
Diseases you can prevent just by washing your hands
- Common cold – A cold may not be as serious as other diseases but it can make you still feel under the weather for days and even ruin your week. Studies prove that handwashing can lower the risk of catching a respiratory illness such as common cold.
- Flu – The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that can be deadly, especially to the young, very old, and immunocompromised. Aside from getting the flu shot, hand washing is one important preventive measure especially when you are exposed to flue germs without knowing it.
- Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease – Common in daycares and preschool, HMFD causes sores on the mouth and throat, rashes in the hands and feet, fever, and loss of appetite. Teaching kids to do frequent hand washing and avoiding their hands out of their mouths should be observed.
- Hepatitis A – Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. This virus is found in the stool and blood of people who are infected. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), you’ll likely hear about hepatitis A outbreaks at restaurants since this virus is often transmitted when someone hasn’t washed their hands after using the bathroom before preparing your food.
- E. coli – Most types of E. coli are harmless and even help keep the digestive tract healthy. But some strains can cause diarrhea if you eat contaminated food or drink dirty water. Although we often hear about E. coli outbreaks in terms of food or water consumption, it can also be passed by coming into contact with an infected person. Washing hands in cold, lukewarm, and hot water works well in preventing the spread of the bacteria from someone.
- Respiratory diseases like Covid-19 – As it is commonly known since the pandemic started, regular washing of hands helps lessen the possibility of catching the coronavirus which can lead to severe pneumonia, acute respiratory failure, and worst, death in some patients.
When to wash your hands?
Always wash your hands every after or before all these items listed below are done. If you don’t have access to any soap and water, always keep a sanitizer or an alcohol spray as another option to keep your hands clean. Also, remember to not use unwashed hands to contact your mouth, nose, or eyes. Cough or sneeze into a tissue, discard it, and then wash your hands if you feel a cough or sneeze coming on. Cough or sneeze into your elbow if you don’t have access to tissue.
- Following a bathroom visit
- Following diaper changes
- Before, during, and following food preparation
- When handling prepared or ready-to-eat food versus raw food
- Before a meal
- Right after sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose
- Following the use of a tissue or handkerchief
- Before and following the treatment of sick children or other family members
- Following smoking
- Following trash collection or gardening chores
- After working with animals
- When you get home, go to other people’s houses, places, or the office.
The Proper Handwashing Technique
Handwashing isn’t just about getting your hands wet under running water and applying soap to them. There is a standard way of washing your hands and practicing it daily will be of great help to keep away from diseases and infections.
- Wet hands with water.
- Apply enough soap to all hand surfaces.
- Rub hands palm to palm. Right palm over left with interlaced fingers and vice versa.
- Palm to palm with fingers interlaced. Backs of fingers to opposing palms with fingers interlocked.
- Rotational rubbing of left thumb clasped in right palm and vice versa. Rotational rubbing, backward and forwards with clasped fingers of the right hand in the palm and vice versa.
- Rinse hands with water and dry thoroughly with a single-use towel.
Each member of the family must have their towels at home, and they must be washed frequently.
Instead of a basin of standing water that can become contaminated over time, utilize rushing water. For washing your hands, warm water may be preferable to cold since warm water makes the soap lather better. Cold water and soap are still appropriate, though. The natural oils in the skin could be harmed by hot water, which could eventually lead to Dermatitis.
In comparison to washing your hands with just water, employing soap and water can significantly more effectively rid your hands of disease-causing germs. In general, liquid soap is preferable over bar soap, especially at work. People who find that soap irritates their skin should be aware that soaps might have varying pH. However, bar soap is still preferable to no soap at all.
The best way to contract all these diseases and to stop their spread is to wash your hands properly using the proper Handwashing Technique. Though it is also helpful to have sanitizers or alcohol sprays in hand for added protection.
Here at Homestead Community Pharmacy, we value cleanliness at all times and it is a must for all our staff to maintain cleanliness not just within themselves but also within the entire Pharmacy. We deliver clean and safe medicines to our community. Improving the health of our community is our ministry.